In a major humiliation to TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the AP High Court on Friday refused to stall the Election Commission of India’s order transferring two IPS officers including the Director-General of Intelligence and a non-cadre officer in the state government, keeping them away from election duties.
Naidu was keen on retaining the controversial DG (Intelligence) A P Venkateswara Rao, whom the Opposition YSR Congress had accused for behaving like a ‘TDP cadre.’
A division bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Praveen Kumar and Justice Satyanarayana Murthy, ruled that there was no case for interim relief in the matter and said the state government should comply with the EC order.
It also rejected the government’s contention on the issue, particularly that the DG had nothing do with the conduct of election and that the EC had no jurisdiction over him.
In fact, the EC had on late Tuesday night issued an order to the Chief Secretary Anil Chandra Puneetha, directing that the DG (Intelligence) and SPs of Kadapa and Srikakulam may be transferred out as well kept out of election duties by attaching them to police headquarters.
In turn, Puneetha responded issuing the orders as per EC directive.
However, scene changed no sooner the Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu came to know about the developments. Interestingly a fumed and fretting Naidu asked the Chief Secretary to revoke the transfer orders of his ‘Man Friday” DG (Intelligence) and also issue a GO stating that his designation does not come under the purview of EC.
Naidu alleged that the election commission’s action was ‘prima facie hasty, biased, undemocratic and suffers from the principles of natural justice”.
He claimed the EC’s conduct has become “questionable” due to this “coloured decision”, which is deliberately aimed at benefitting the YSR Congress “under the influence of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, aided by (Telangana Chief Minister) K Chandrasekhar Rao”.
The government issued a separate order on Wednesday, designating certain police officers from the DGP to the rank of a constable for law and order duties in connection with the April 11 elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assembly.
The DG of Intelligence has been kept away from election duties.
“The ECI cannot engage in unchecked, arbitrary and uncanalised exercise of power. The ECI order suffers from the vice of lack of jurisdiction, suffers from being a colourable exercise of power and is based on alien purposes or oblique motives which have nothing to do with the conduct of polling duties,” state Political Secretary (General Administration Department) N Srikant said in the petition, filed on behalf of the chief secretary.
The High Court heard arguments in the case on Thursday.
The YSR Congress also impleaded in the case.